Sunday, March 8, 2009

Listening To The Growing Grass

We had our first thunderstorm, last night, and boy oh boy! did it come down. Joanne and I opened the curtains in our living room so we could watch the bolts of lightning as they streaked across the sky. I guess that this was our first sign of spring.

When I took Koly outside, this morning, I noticed that almost all of the snow was gone. Just a few very small patches remain and one large patch on my front lawn…

… the remnants of ‘Mount Jim’! In January I told you that story – . Every time I had to shovel the driveway, I would pile the snow onto Mt. Jim – to make this tobogganing hill higher and higher for my neighbour’s children. With all the tobogganing that went on here, the snow became more and more compact and now it’s like a big block of ice, slowly melting…

When Koly and I made it to our backyard I noticed that I could now see the mess that I will soon have to clean up. It’s always a little messy in the spring, with fallen branches and what not.

It’s hard to believe, now, but in another month or so this patch of brown dirt will be full of life and colour. After our first summer here I quickly learned not to plant any of the vegetables that I love – the squirrels just destroyed them. Last summer I changed my plan and planted just a small amount of root vegetables – carrots, radishes, parsnips and potatoes. With the remainder of the garden I began to expand the flowerbeds – day lilies, bleeding hearts, hollyhocks, lily of the valley, peonies and many different species of hostas. Last fall I planted several small patches of spring bulbs, in between the summer perennials so I’m really excited to see how the garden will look this year!

With spring in the air, I wanted to share a story about something that I learned about Nature – just a few years ago.

Joanne and I were living in Nova Scotia in the spring of 2003 so that I could work on my cross-Canada art project entitled ‘Canada: Glorious To Be’. This is a link to that project on my official website - . This is a link to my youtube video interview from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, 2006, which explains this project very well - .

We were living in a small house that was built into the side of a hill. The rest of the hill was covered with trees and it was a very peaceful place to be. It was about this time of year and I was taking Koly outside for his morning walk. It was a very quiet morning and I was enjoying the silence and freshness of the spring air. Then I began to hear some strange noises…

At first, I could hear a few noises coming from here and there along the forest floor, just outside our house. As I began to look for the source, I focussed my listening even more and soon it sounded like the entire forest floor was alive with a symphony of strange sounds. It got louder and louder, as the morning sun rose into the sky. My eyebrows danced across my forehead with wonder – I still couldn’t see where this noise was coming from. It sounded like thousands and thousands of little ripping noises – like an entire school full of children, all ripping pieces of paper at the same time. I had to investigate further.

I walked into the forest, sat on my haunches and listened. The noise grew ‘til it was like thunder in my ear and then I saw it. At first, it surprised me, but after a few moments I noticed this phenomena surrounding me, with movement all around. The forest floor was coming alive and it moved in steady patterns. I was listening to and watching the grass grow!!!

Let’s think about this for a moment… Think about a forest in the autumn season. The leaves are changing colour and falling off of the trees. The leaves fall to the forest floor. Then winter arrives with several feet of snow piling up through this season. Spring brings warmer weather and the snow melts, leaving a very flattened layer of pressed leaves on the forest floor. These leaves are damp with the melting snow, at first, but as the sun dries the ground these leaves begin to dry as well, creating a thin solid layer on the forest floor. Underneath these leaves are all the grasses and spring flowers that will soon blossom and during this time they are reaching up for the sun’s light. They have to push their way through this layer of dried leaves and as the dried leaves are moved aside they begin to make small ripping noises as their surface is punctured by the growing grass.

It doesn’t seem to be much of a mystery, now that it’s solved, but at the time it seemed very new to me. I had simple never noticed this natural occurrence before. Since that time I have been able to hear the grass growing every single springtime.

It’s amazing that there are so many wonders that surround us every day that go unnoticed until we take the time to listen and learn.


1 comment:

Sasha said...

Thanks Jim!

What a lovely story, just shows again how me should stop and smell the flowers along the way!